By Trey Mongrue
Aaron Nola saw his LSU career come to a close from the visiting team’s dugout last Monday as the Houston Cougars eliminated the Tigers with a 12-2 win in the Baton Rouge Regional championship game.
In the three years that the Baton Rouge native and Catholic High School product spent at LSU, Nola pitched in 52 games with 49 starts. He finishes third on LSU’s career strikeouts list with 345 to go along with a nearly pristine 30-6 pitching record and an earned run average of 2.85.
With pinpoint control and the ability to throw a plethora of pitches for strikes, Nola’s name should be called quickly this Thursday during the first round of the 2014 Major League Baseball Draft.
Following the season ending loss, DIG caught up with one of LSU’s best pitchers of all time to discuss the loss and his future plans.
DIG: Did you really feel like Saturday could be the last game that you could pitch at LSU?
Aaron Nola: Yeah and no. At the time, I liked to think that it wasn’t because we were playing really well. On Sunday, we had the lead and everything seemed to be going our way. And then everything happened so quickly. We made some mistakes and Houston capitalized on them enough to score some runs and ended up beating us. And then [Monday], we thought we were in good shape in that first inning with those two runs, but we made more mistakes. It just happens.
DIG: The team was six outs away on Sunday from winning the regional. Is it more shock than sadness right now?
AN: Yeah, but you have to look at the other team and know that they played their butts off and competed form the first pitch to the last pitch. They were down 4-0 going into the eighth inning, but they didn’t let down and it showed.
DIG: How tough will it be to go into the locker room here one last time?
AN: It’s tough because this was the last time I put this jersey on and it will be the last time that I take it off. I know that it is going to hit me pretty hard.
DIG: With the first round of the draft on Thursday coming up, how tough is it to get over this loss and prepare for the future?
AN: It’s going to be hard to get over, especially because this is the last game for me in this uniform. But, I have to look towards the future and can’t dwell on this too much.
DIG: This loss aside, how excited are you for what could happen this week?
AN: Yeah, I’m definitely looking forward to Thursday now. Whatever happens, happens. I’m going to be happy wherever I get picked and whatever team I go to.
DIG: As for LSU’s future, how good do you think the team can be next year?
AN: I think they can be really good. They will have a lot of guys that have experienced the postseason, which is always big. There will be a lot of the starters from this year’s team, Andrew [Stevenson], Mark [Laird], Alex [Bregman] and all of them, coming back. A lot of the young guys that played this year, they have a lot of room to improve. Especially the pitchers, we have a lot of young pitchers and I have no doubt that they are going to be good for us.